Kharagpur, Dec. 28: Development initiatives like providing drinking water, organising frequent health check-up camps and starting income-generating schemes in the Naxalite-influenced belts of West Midnapore district has resulted in a scale-down of activities of the People’s War (PW), according to chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.
Addressing a huge rally of the CPM’s farmers’ wing, Kishan Sabha, at the BNR grounds today, Bhattacharjee added that he had instructed the district administration to ensure a fair price for tendu leaves, collected and sold by the tribals.
The chief minister also announced the launch of a mid-day meal scheme in 250 primary schools schools in the impoverished district and issuance of green cards to families with income below Rs 15,000 per annum. The mid-day meal scheme would become operational immediately, he said.
“When the Naxalite movement began in the state, their targets were the police and our party comrades. Recently, I had a chat with Charu Majumdar (noted Naxalite leader) and I was told that the Naxalites have realised the mistakes committed three decades ago,” Bhattacharjee told the gathering. The PW in the south and the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO) in the north had become a menace, the chief minister said. “The KLO wants to turn north Bengal into another Assam, but we will not allow them to do so,” he said.
Present in the rally, which focussed on the activities of the Trinamul Congress and the Naxalites, were the family members of the 115 men killed allegedly by these two outfits in the district over the past two years. Health and panchayat minister Surjya Kanta Mishra regretted their deaths and instructed party workers to gear up for the panchayat polls slated for next year.
“Let me assure you that as long as we can ensure that the poor have rights over land, no one can remove us from Writers’ Buildings,” Mishra said, urging the audience to settle all differences and fight the polls unitedly. “We will not only retain the seats we have, but we will add to the tally this time. Make sure we can achieve that,” Mishra exhorted.
Bhattacharjee said the panchayat system in Bengal had ensured that over 1,50,000 sharecroppers got cultivating rights in the past two decades.
“As a result, Bengal now leads Punjab in grain production. We are now taking precautions so that farmers get just price for the paddy they cultivate,” he added.
Steps were being taken so that the Food Corporation of India bought the rice produced by Bengal’s farmers. “We have to go in for alternative crops to be more competitive in today’s market,” Bhattacharjee said.